Mary Ellen Courtney
Porter Chance Books (2013)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (06/13)
In “Wild Nights” by Mary Ellen Courtney, readers are taken on a journey of personal understanding. Thirty-two year old production designer Hannah Spring has a lot going on in her life. Her latest journey begins with the death of her grandmother. While she is headed down from Los Angeles to see her family in San Diego, her car breaks down and she gets help from a truck driver. Finding herself unusually attracted and intrigued by this man, he steps into her life. This has a serious effect on her ongoing relationship with a man whom she knows really isn’t right for her. The chemistry just isn’t there. When things fall apart on the mainland, she decides to take a trip by herself to Hawaii. She meets some more interesting people there. There is one man in particular who captures her attention. She finds it hard to leave, yet she has to return home to prepare for a nine month work assignment in India. Before she leaves, she gets hit with more personal losses and her estranged relationship with her mother comes to a head. She rashly reacts to what is happening around her.
Having to leave everything behind, including her heart, which is now in Hawaii, Hannah goes off to India. While working there she has some incredible experiences that teach her to look at life a bit differently. She also has a chance to reflect upon what she already has experienced and to look at the relationships that she had with people that she has lost. She is able to find a sense of herself that she didn’t have before. She also has some big decisions to make about which direction she will take when she returns to Los Angeles. Will she follow her career or her heart?
From the first page, I found myself totally captivated by “Wild Nights.” Humor is interspersed between intense situations and vividly described scenery. I found myself relating a great deal to Hannah’s experiences and to her indecisions. She definitely had people come into her life to teach her lessons. Some were good, some were bad, but she did learn from them. Watching her grow and gain perspective on her life was also a learning experience for me as a reader. I enjoyed having the opportunity to read a great fictional novel that also had some lessons in there for me to think about in regards to my own life. This is definitely a novel that will be savored by the reader. I highly recommend it as a choice for women’s reader groups. Fun discussions are guaranteed to follow!